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Aeon’s pay offer is likely to push major competitors to take similar measures © Bloomberg

Aeon, one of Japan’s biggest supermarket and convenience store groups, said it will raise average wages by an unprecedented 7 per cent across its 400,000-strong workforce of part-time employees.

The pay offer by Aeon, which controls the Ministop convenience store chain, Welcia pharmacies and core Aeon supermarkets, is the first such move by a large Japanese retailer and likely to push major competitors to take similar measures.

“We will aim to raise efficiency by hiring high-quality talent,” the company said, noting “fierce competition” in Japan’s tight labour market.

The pay increase will be implemented as early as March and involve part-time employees at the group’s 147 subsidiaries.

Aeon’s move follows months of government pressure on companies to increase wages after years of failing to do so. Several companies, including Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing and the drinks group Suntory, have announced significant wage increases in recent weeks.

Aeon’s promised increase, which is notable for covering part-time workers, far outstrips Japan’s current 4 per cent rate of core inflation.

Although Japan’s larger companies have signalled that they will increase wages, the overall effect will be damped if the country’s huge number of small and medium-sized companies do not replicate the offer.

Japan’s SMEs employ over 70 per cent of the country’s workforce.



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